If it were up to Melodie Daoust, she wouldn’t play in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League until after the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Daoust, Les Canadiennes’ first-round pick in the 2017 Draft, is currently in Calgary practising with Team Canada in preparation for the Olympics. Five of the 28 players at the camp will be cut from the final roster. She was on the 2014 Olympic team, and was the youngest player on the roster that won Canada a fourth straight Olympic gold medal.
That puts her in a unique position now: a veteran of the Olympic Team, yet still among the younger players in camp.
“When I came in in 2014, I was young and I was ready to learn from the vets and taking everything in and enjoying the journey. Everything was new for me so I really enjoyed it,” she said. “And I think this year is not anything different. I want to learn, I want to keep improving every day. I want to cherish the moment because there are so many players who would love to be here and just take that experience and then try to get better every day, and now I'm kind of in a position where I can help the first-timers here. I think I love that position where I can be there for them like the vets were for me in 2014.”
Daoust’s road from 2014 to the 2018 camp was a rocky one. After winning gold, Daoust was preparing for the upcoming season when she tore her ACL in a training session, and missed most of the year. She played only three games in 2014-15, scoring three goals and adding four assists.
“After I tore my ACL in 2014 that was a big shock for me, and then I knew that from then I just needed to keep working hard and keep my eyes on the goal, and my goal was to be here in 2017.”
Despite this being her second Olympic camp, and having been on the 2014 roster, Daoust has never played in a World Championship for Canada. Considering the annual international tournament is one of the biggest events of the year (in non-Olympic years), it did put her spot at the Olympic camp in question.
No player to make an Olympic team as young as Daoust in 2014 failed to make the team four years later.
“Not being [at the World Championship] maybe gave me that motivation to get even better and work even harder. I knew that it wouldn't be that easy to be here and just make the team. I like that challenge I want to be here and work hard for it. I think I deserve my spot here.”
Once the Olympic challenge is over, she is looking to build upon a great career at McGill University, taking the ice with friends and ex-teammates with Les Canadiennes in the CWHL. Daoust played two CWHL games in the 2010-11 season, earning three assists.
“It's a new journey and I'm really looking forward to it. I think that the CWHL is an amazing organization for us in women's hockey, and the game is growing and the organization is growing,” she said. “I'm really excited to be drafted by Montreal and be able to represent my city.”
“I feel like it is a small community and I'm really looking forward to share that journey with them. And it is exciting. Most of the team, they are my friends, so that makes it greater. It's just amazing to be able to play with teammates that you played with before and it just made the transition between university and the CWHL easier.”